ORCHARD PARK, NY - After a weekend off with some reflection about their most recent result against the New York Jets, the Buffalo Bills returned to work on Monday for their first of four practices ahead of their next contest. While there are still a few questions, the Bills are actually rounding into shape from a health perspective.
As the Bills took to the practice field on Monday, five notes from practice to pass along:
1) Kelvin Benjamin makes his debut
- The Buffalo Bills had to wait nearly one whole week after they traded for him, but on Monday, Benjamin made his official debut on the practice field with the Bills.
Kelvin Benjamin, y’all pic.twitter.com/dxT6eolCY0— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) November 6, 2017
Rather than taking the weekend to move his entire life to Western New York, Benjamin instead opted to stay in Buffalo and work through the weekend to learn the playbook and to work with wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan. Benjamin, the 6-foot-5, 245-pound wide receiver that’s built like a tight end, will offer the Bills something they clearly don’t have: a big target that can win a contested catch wherever he is on the field. The question is, what can they expect from Benjamin in the early stages? Well, he’s said and done all the right things for the Bills both on and off the field with trying to learn the playbook (staying after practice with Tyrod Taylor, learning from teammates, etc.), but head coach Sean McDermott did admit that getting added this late in the year will mean Benjamin will work more in with the game plan than to fully ingratiate himself into the offense and the playbook. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’ll play on Sunday, as long as he comes out from practice without any injuries, and is likely to make his Bills debut Sunday against New Orleans. How much will he be on the field? It’s really up to how much he can handle because it’s pretty clear that when he’s all the way there with the playbook, he’s going to be getting as many snaps as he can handle.
2) Cordy Glenn dealing with ankle/foot soreness
- The Bills have gone the last three weeks with having their starting left tackle Cordy Glenn healthy and playing almost every snap available to him on game days. We haven’t heard much of the injuries that plagued the first month of the season over those active games, but heading into Week 10, here they are back again — at least on a minor scale. Glenn had to sit out of Monday’s practice due to soreness in both his ankle and foot. The ankle injury is on his left leg, while the foot — when it was last explained to us, was the right one. Now, it’s important to not overreact based on some non-activity on a Monday during the week because teams don’t normally practice on Mondays. That day, for a lot of players, is normally one to heal the body and the routine is observed throughout the season. Specifically for those that have dealt with lingering injuries like Glenn, having the game on the previous Thursday likely doesn’t make much of a difference if that’s just the routine. However, if he has to miss any time on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, that would signal there has been a setback to the injury that they thought had healed enough for him to play. As always, if Glenn has to miss any time in practice or the game, rookie Dion Dawkins is the one to take all the reps at left tackle. We’ll see on Wednesday.
3) Zay Jones trending up
- For all the things that went poorly for the Bills on Thursday night in New Jersey, the one shining beacon of light was with how well rookie wide receiver Zay Jones played during the game. He easily vanquished his previous single-game highs, recording his highest reception and yardage total, and even chipped in his first touchdown. He was running spectacular routes and made defensive backs look silly — so much so that it contributed to his injury. The trip from Jets cornerback Buster Skrine made his leg bend in a rather uncomfortable way, but Jones made it back on the field before re-injuring it in the second half and then had to watch the rest of the game from the sidelines. Jones did not participate in practice on Monday, but McDermott did seem to indicate that things had been trending in the right direction for Jones. He’s considered “day-to-day,” which is a best-case scenario for the Bills after how scary the injury initially appeared on replays. Jones is in a new role for the Bills and the pressure is off, and after a game in which he flourished with some targets, the team has to be eager to get him back on the field to further his development in the second half of the season. As for Sunday’s game, getting on the field on either Wednesday or Thursday will be vital to his availability for the team.
4) No practice for Charles Clay and EJ Gaines
- The Bills were without both tight end Charles Clay and cornerback EJ Gaines in their loss to the New York Jets, but based on the way the team basically laid an egg, they likely wouldn’t have made a huge difference. However, getting another 10 full days of rest in between that Jets game and the upcoming contest with the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, that could help the Bills get both players back on the field in time. While neither player was able to participate in practice in the traditional sense on Monday, we did see Clay doing some work on the field as the team was going through individual drills. I don’t think you can rule him out in the slightest bit for Sunday considering the progress he’s made the past two weeks. The Bills really, really need Gaines to return as they’re up against Drew Brees and a passing offense that can get hot and stay hot — especially if their run game isn’t working and they have to depend on it. McDermott said Friday that both players have a realistic chance to play against the Saints, which means this is another case of “wait and see” for Wednesday’s practice.
5) Humber, Poyer emerge unscathed
- A couple of times in the game, starting weakside linebacker Ramon Humber had to come out due to some pain in his previously injured thumb that kept him out for three games. Not shockingly, he tried to rush back from his injury — and it likely had a couple of motivations: to get back on the field to help his team, and to get the impressive rookie Matt Milano off the field to help preserve his starting job. After the long weekend, the Bills seem to think Humber’s injury came out well after the Jets game and it appears he’ll continue on a track to play again this Sunday. Starting safety Jordan Poyer didn’t have any in-game setbacks, but he also came away from the contest without a serious re-aggravation and once again appears on track to play on Sunday.